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UN has a ‘number of concerns’ with Sri Lanka’s proposed counter terror law

The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka said the global body had expressed concern over Sri Lanka’s proposed counter terrorism legislation, which has been approved by Sri Lanka’s cabinet.
In an interview with the Sunday Times Una McCauley said, “There are a number of concerns that we had flagged up including the admission of confessions that were not made with lawyers present, the 72-hour initial holding period where international legal standards say 48 hours, the process of arrest and the levels of authority around when arrests can and should be made, as well as text around what is considered a terrorist act or an associated terrorist act”.
Ms McCauley went on to add that the UN had “been asked to review successive drafts of the legislation to assess its conformity with international legal standards”.
The draft law has faced much criticism, Including from the TNA, who expressed fear that it may even be worse than the existing draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Speaking to the Sunday Times Ms McCauley went on to speak of her office’s work in Sri Lanka, saying the focus of the UN team has shifted.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have meant the UN office has downsized its presence on the island and has led to “uncomfortable decisions where some people in the North and East, which traditionally have been areas where we’ve worked on rehabilitation of the services, may no longer be the most vulnerable”.
Though she stated the people of the North-East “need some level of justice and truth as well,” Ms McCauley added, “but it also means that we have to look at those people who live within this very poor section of the South, who also need a dialogue around how the UN supports Government to realise the SDGs, to move those people on as well.”
“Now, have we abandoned anyone?” she posed. “I don’t think we have.”
See her full interview with the Sunday Times here.